I’d never really dreamt about visiting Singapore, maybe because everyone says it’s so expensive. However, Gardens by the Bay has always been on my list.
Seeing those beautiful gardens, with the illuminated artificial trees at night has been a desire for a long time.
Recently, I was invited by friends to visit Singapore, and since I was spending five months in Asia, I could not miss the opportunity.
Singapore, known as the Lion City, is an island-city/country in Southeast Asia, just off southern Malaysia. It was founded as a British trading colony in 1819. Since its independence in 1965, it has become one of the most prosperous countries in the world, and boasts the world’s busiest port.
As one of the hubs in Southeast Asia, many people just do a layover in Singapore. But the city has a very interesting contrast of impressive skyscrapers, green areas (more than 50 % of its surface area is covered by greenery), colonial houses, and also a medley of Chinese, Indian, and Malay influences. Thus, the city has Buddhist temples, Indian temples and neighborhoods, and even a huge mosque in the Arab streets.
The Enchanting Gardens
As soon as I arrived, checked in and had lunch, the first thing that I wanted to do was…? Exactly, I wanted to see the Gardens by the Bay.
I decided to walk all the way from my hotel in Chinatown to Marina Bay Sands (a 40min walk), to get a taste of the city. And what a city!! The skyline and the Marina Bay Sands Building are extraordinary.
Gardens by the Bay, situated next to Marina Bay Sands, is a large public garden which houses two huge climate controled conservatories – the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest as well as a cluster of gigantic Super Trees.
Once you’re in the Marina Bay Sands Hotel, you can cross the Dragonfly Bridge or Meadow Bridge into Gardens by the Bay. The view from the Dragonfly Bridge is amazing, and I could not wait to finally get into the gardens.
But unfortunately when I arrived there, I found out that the Cloud Forest was closed that day, and only the Flower Dome was open. The following day it would be the opposite. They closed them once a month for maintenance, so I had to wait two more days to finally visit both.
Visiting Gardens by the Bay
Visiting Gardens By the Bay was the main reason that I came to Singapore. I’ve seen so many pictures of this place, that I had high expectations.
Finally on Wednesday 18th of January 2017, I woke up early in the morning and went to the ticket office to buy my tickets.
The Flower Dome, the Cloud Forest, and the OCBC Skywalk are open daily from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM; and the Outdoor Gardens is also open daily from 5:00 AM to 2:00 AM.
Gardens by the Bay entrance fee:
- One conservatory: S$ 16
- Flower Dome + Cloud Forest combined: S$ 28
- OCBC Skyway: S$ 8
Of course I bought the tickets for both conservatories, and I got a 15 % discount because I showed my AirAsia boarding pass (you can also get discounts if you’re flying with Singapore Airlines, or have OCBC, Safra, Passion, NTUC and American Express cards).
The Flower Dome
With tickets and map in hand, the first one that I visited was the Flower Dome, which is the largest glass greenhouse in the world, and has a diverse range of plant life from the world’s four corners: from thousand-year-old olive trees, to cactus, palm trees, and of course the floral display.
The huge and climate-controlled dome has three levels and is divided into different sections. Some of the gardens displayed are: Australian, South American, Mediterranean, South African, etc. And besides the trees and flowers, you can also find some artwork.
My favorite part was the Flower Field on the lower level. Here you can find many different species and colors of flowers, as well as structures, like houses, statues, etc. The Succulent Garden on the upper level is very nice as well, with many cacti, baobabs, and other dry climate plants.
I liked the Flower Dome, but to be honest I was expecting more, actually many more flowers. On the top, the South America Gardens has Asian balloons at the entrance which for me doesn’t make too much sense… Anyhow, my visit took around 1:30 and I had fun taking pictures and admiring the flowery dome.
The Surprising Cloud Forest
Just after the exit of the Flower Dome, is the entrance to the Cloud Forest.
I was not expecting anything from the Cloud Dome, and had never seen any pictures of it.
When I entered the Cloud Forest, what a surprise! A 35-m man-made mountain and the world’s tallest indoor waterfall welcomed me. The mountain is covered with flowers and vegetation and it was completely awesome.
The Cloud Forest conservatory is much taller than the Flower Dome, and you need to take an elevator to the sixth floor to walk on a spiral platform that goes around the mountain.
The plants and flowers displayed are from tropical highlands up to 2,000m above sea level and include even carnivorous species. The plants are dazzling, but walking on the elevated platform is extraordinary. The aerial view of the canopy, the huge tall dome with the city in the background, and people walking on the mountainside below was just surreal; it felt like a sci-fi movie.
The delightful Supertrees
I would say that the image of the Supertrees has become a symbol of Singapore as much as the Merlion (a statue of a monster that has the head of a lion and the body of a fish, which is considered Singapore’s nation icon) that resides at the waterfront of Merlion National Park.
The Supertrees are dramatic vertical plants that consist of four parts: a reinforced concrete core, trunk, planting panels for the living skin and the canopy (some of them have photovoltaic cells on the canopy to harvest solar energy). There are 18 Supertrees in Gardens by the Bay that measure between 25 – 50m height, and are covered with 162,900 plants comprising more than 200 species.
You can find the Supertrees in three different gardens: Silver Garden, Golden Garden, and Supertree Grove. Twelve of them are located in the Supertree Grove, which has a 22m high and 128m long bridge that connects two trees called OCBC Skyway. It provides a superb view of the whole complex, and the tickets for it are sold separately.
When the night falls the Supertrees come to life and are sparkling with thousands of lamps with different shades and colors. The Garden Rhapsody, a light and sound show that occurs nightly at 7:45PM and 8:45 PM, and enchants everyone present.
I was amazed by the Supertrees’ beauty and ingenuity!
And there is much more to see
Flower Dome, Cloud Forest and The Supertrees are just three of the key attractions of Gardens by the Bay. The others are: Heritage Gardens, World of Plants, Dragonfly Lake, Far East Organization Children’s Garden and Sun Pavilion. Of those, the one that I liked most was the Dragonfly Lake, which has a 440m boardwalk and captivating statuettes.
There are also ten restaurants and cafés, and four areas for events including The Meadow, Singapore’s largest outdoor space venue that hosts up to 30,000 people.
Visiting Gardens by the Bay was a delightful experience, and I’m glad that after years I had the chance to see it in person. Singapore is a terrific place to visit, and I will write about other places that I visited there.
Safe travels and enjoy the Gardens by the Bay!
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- Where is Singapore located?
Singapore lies in the southern tip of Malay Peninsula, 136km on the North of equador (check map here).
- How to get there?
You can get to Singapore by plane, train and even bus.
* By plane
Singapore is one too the hubs in Southeast Asia and the Changi International Airport is well connected with many cities around the world. Some of the companies operating are: British Airways, Air France, Singapore Airlines, Emirates, Air Asia, EVA Air, Thai Airways, Tige Air, Jet Star, Cathay Pacific, etc.
* By train
One of the cheapest ways to get to Singapore from Kuala Lumpur is by train, but the journey is very long and slow (it takes about 6 – 7 hours). There are three trains daily, and you can find more information and even buy your ticket online at the KTMB’s website.
In fact you can also take train from Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur and then from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore.
- Best time to visit?
Singapore has a warm and humid weather a all year-round. The wettest months are between November to January, and the hottest ones are May and June.
So, the best time to visit Singapore is between February to April, and July to September.
I was there in the middle of January and it rained every single day during my stay, but scattered rains though.
- Where to stay?
There are some really nice boutique hotels in Singapore, and if you’re looking for accommodation I recommend:
Budget: COO Boutique Hostel, The InnCrowd Backpackers’ Hostel, Royal Hostel and Hotel 81 Chinatown.
Great Value for Money: Naumi Hotel, Kam Leng Hotel, The Sultan, The Club and Wanderlust Hotel.
Luxury: Raffles, The Fullerton Hotel and Parkroyal on Pickering.
Extra Tips to Visit Gardens by the Bay
* The best time to visit Gardens By the Bay is in the end the afternoon once you can stay there to watch the Garden Rhapsody show.
* I watched the light and sound show twice and I think the best place to see it it’s from the Dragonfly Bridge.
* The nearest MRT to Garden by the Bay is the Bayfront station (CE1/DT16), via the circle line or downtown line.
* Bring sun screen, water and insect repellent.
* There are lockers available for S$ 1,00 where you can leave your belongs.
* If you use your card or airline ticket to get a discount, you also receive a S$5 voucher to use in the restaurant Bakerzin.
* Before your visit check on the oficial website to make sure that both domes will be open.